New Orleans (WGNO) - "It takes a lot of maintenance to be fierce and beautiful all the time."
That's artist Tami Curtis, talking about the amazing flying horses that carry delighted riders of all ages on the historic City Park carousel. She has transferred the fierce beauty of the antique wooden treasure onto canvas, using acrylic paint to depict 12 scenes from the magical ride.
This week marks a milestone in a two-year project that began with Curtis taking hundreds of photos during three photo shoots at City Park. She found every possible angle to reflect the beauty of the carousel, and the parade of painted steeds also showcases the incredible architecture of the gazebo. Her work will mean several thousand dollars that will go toward preserving the carousel.
The 110-year-old carousel has been a City Park star since 1906. It has 56 animals in all, 53 of which are horses -- and 30 of those are "flyers," meaning they move up and down as the ride circles.
Curtis says she's heard fabulous stories from people ages eight to 88, all with emotional ties to the carousel.
"They rode it with their great grandmother and their grandparents and their children and so it's kind of like they're buying a part of their family's history when they buy one," says Curtis.
The paintings -- which will be shown together for possibly the last time on Thursday at a fundraiser at the carousel -- are $5,800 apiece. There are 100 limited edition prints of each painting that cost $300, and postcards, magnets and holiday ornaments for sale for much smaller donations.
Half of all the money raised from the sales of all the products goes to the Carousel Endowment Fund. Six of the original paintings have already been sold.
Curtis says that if she had to sum up the experience in one word it would be "grateful." She says she's thankful for the opportunity to make a mark on the "heart" of New Orleans, and that she's thankful for all that the horses have taught her as an artist.
If you're interested in purchasing a "Flying Horses" painting at Thursday's exhibition and fundraiser at City Park (or at her studio on Magazine Street) contact Tami by e-mail at Tami@TamiCurtisStudios.com.
The benefit is from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Carousel Building.